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What qualifications should I look for in a vet?

What qualifications should I look for in a vet?

You love your pet and you want to make sure that the veterinarian you choose to care for them has the right qualifications to give them the treatment and professional attention that they need. But what qualifications should you be looking for?

Choosing the Right Vet

The process of selecting a new veterinarian can be a stressful one. There are so many things you need to consider. Does their schedule align with yours? Will you even like them? But beyond these day-to-day considerations, there are several potential certifications a given veterinarian can hold. But what do these certifications mean? Here is a rundown of a few of the most common.

Mandatory U.S. Veterinary Qualifications

When looking for a vet, check to ensure that the vet you are considering is licensed to practice in both the U.S. and in your state. 

You may also want to take the time to look into whether or not others working in the hospital are licensed, like registered veterinary technicians. Visit your prospective vet's office and take a look around. If you don't find certifications hanging up in the reception area, ask to see them or contact your state board of veterinary medicine for more information. 

Here are the two certifications you are looking for:

DVM (VMD) - Doctor of Veterinary Medicine - The first thing you should check is whether or not your vet is qualified to practice in the United States. When someone graduates from an American veterinary school, they receive a DVM—a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. All vets who practice in the U.S. must have a DVM degree. It signifies that the vet you are considering is, in fact, qualified to perform the duties of the profession.

State Veterinary Licensing - To practice veterinary medicine, some states also require a veterinarian to pass a state-specific examination. These exams typically test the vet's knowledge of the state's laws and regulations governing veterinary medicine. To maintain a state veterinary license, vets must obtain continuing education and may need to renew their license regularly (often every 3 years).

Additional Veterinary Qualifications

If your pet has health care requirements above and beyond standard veterinary care, you may want to look for a vet with qualifications that go beyond the standard DVM degree. Two such certifications are:

Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (DABVP) - Veterinarians who are ABVP Certified (ABVP Diplomates) begin with a DVM degree and then go on to accrue knowledge and expertise beyond what is required to practice standard veterinary medicine. ABVP Diplomates undergo a challenging 3-year process of additional studies and examination to become board-certified specialists recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). These vets have put in the hard work and training to specialize in the treatment of one or more categories of animals.

Fear-Free Certification - If your pet is anxious or high-strung, you may want to take some extra time to locate a Fear-Free Certified vet in your area. This certification can apply to an individual vet, or even to the hospital itself. Fear Free training educates vets in the ways that they can make pets more at ease in their offices and during their treatments. 

Vets That May Require A Referral

Veterinary Specialists - A board-certified veterinary specialist is a veterinarian who has completed additional training in a specific area of veterinary medicine and has passed an examination that evaluates their knowledge and skills in that specialty area. If your pet is unwell, your regular vet may refer you to a veterinary specialist. There are 41 distinct specialties within veterinary medicine ranging from behavior to ophthalmology and surgery to dentistry. You may be referred to a veterinary specialist if diagnosing or treating your pet's health issue requires specialized equipment and/or expertise that your primary care veterinarian does not have. Veterinary specialists take pride in working with your primary care veterinarian to provide your pet with the best care possible.

At Des Moines Veterinary Hospital, our veterinary professionals are committed to offering you and your pet the best possible care.  Contact us today to learn more about the qualifications of our vets and our range of services.

Welcoming Your Pets to Our Animal Hospital 

Des Moines Veterinary Hospital welcomes cats, dogs, fish, small mammals, and their owners to our clinic! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Des Moines companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's appointment.

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